Choosing to commute on a bike offers a host of potential benefits. There’s the incredible exercise that your body gets from biking, which leads to strengthening your legs and improving cardiovascular health. You also reduce your carbon footprint by not using a gas-powered vehicle to get where you’re going. In some cases, you can even avoid the worst traffic when you’re on a bike.

However, people in Phoenix get hurt on bicycles all the time. Sharing the road with larger motor vehicles means you incur a substantial risk of injury in the event of a collision or crash. Certain safety practices can reduce your overall risk. However, you can’t control the risk related to crashes caused by other people on the road, including dangerous dooring incidents.

What is a dooring accident?

Even if you’ve never heard this word before, you’ve likely heard stories about someone who experienced this kind of accident or saw it online or in a movie. People inside motor vehicles often fail to notice cyclists and pedestrians. When someone in a vehicle opens a door into traffic or into a bike lane, a cyclist may not be able to stop in time.

Someone traveling at high speeds can hit an open door and end up thrown off of his or her bike. Striking the door and then hitting the pavement can cause serious injuries. The seriousness of the accident can increase if the person on the bike gets thrown or rolls into traffic. Other vehicles can strike or even run over that person, leading to severe and even fatal injuries.

Arizona law holds motor vehicle occupants responsible for doorings

People in motor vehicles need to make smart choices to limit the risk they create for other people on the road. They should remain aware of their surroundings, including after the vehicle comes to a stop. It only takes a few moments of neglect to create a truly dangerous situation that can have devastating outcomes for others.

While the Arizona dooring law does not specifically mention the risk to cyclists, it does make it clear that liability for dooring accidents usually lies with the person opening the door. The law requires that anyone opening a motor vehicle door will wait until it is reasonably safe and won’t interfere with traffic. The door should only be open for as long as it takes to load or unload a passenger.

Thankfully, those who end up injured or caring for a loved one who suffered injuries in a dooring accident have legal recourse in the wake of a dooring. Victims and/or their families can seek compensation for injuries, medical expenses and lost wages through a personal injury lawsuit after a dooring accident.